Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
While other sports wait for trends to come to them, triathlon has a long, rich history of living at the cutting edge of technology and design. Multisport has led the pack in breaking trends, and while not every tri design is a home run, our sport is a petri dish for exciting innovation. We sat down with our editors and a team of gear experts to whittle through the most exciting and impactful people, products, and more from the last year to see who is truly deserving of Triathlete’s designs of the year. We’ll be announcing the winners one by one here on Triathlete.com. Pick up the March/April issue for a complete list of winners (and don’t forget to enter to win the bike featured on the cover). The winner of the Most Beautiful award is…
While it might be hard to get too excited about a smartwatch, Suunto’s latest dip into an already-crowded category does what not too many serious triathlete-ready smartwatches do: look good. While the big screen and slimmer-than-most body of the Suunto 7 definitely commands positive attention, it’s the color touchscreen outfitted with Google’s WearOS that should put this watch at the very top of any Android fan’s shopping list (it also works well with Apple iOS devices).
Using the latest wearable system that syncs seamlessly with other Google products (Android, Play, Pay, Assistant, Fit, etc.), the Suunto 7 is a Google-native device that’s more like a high-end outdoor brand’s answer to the ubiquitous Apple Watch and iOS. When connected, the Suunto 7 uses very slick graphical menus and icons in a very same way that iOS does—wisely breaking using Google’s interface chops rather than the native experience that most athlete-based smartwatches clumsily employ.
One of the most visually striking features of the Suunto 7 is its offline heatmap capability that shows you nearby routes, brightened by levels of popularity. By aggregating wearers’ GPS data (like how a traffic app knows when there are delays, but in a good way), Suunto can help find routes that are safer and more fun without searching through haphazard lists of routes for varying distances. This can change an otherwise dull work-trip run into a run that feels like it’s guided by locals. Even better yet, you can set the default watch face to display those gorgeous heatmaps wherever you are—a dreary trip to an unfamiliar metropolis is instantly rendered into a very pretty routemap right when you land.
Functionality aside, the Suunto 7 uses some pretty great tech to blend workout and lifestyle into a digitally beautiful package. The only downside here is that currently the Suunto 7 doesn’t support multisport or triathlon sport modes, but that doesn’t necessarily affect the aesthetics. More than just a workout watch, the Suunto 7 does a better job of integrating daily lifestyle routines and cements it as a smartwatch that doesn’t come off when your training is done.
Honorable Mention: Quintana Roo PRsix2
Sometimes the best design is the one you create yourself. With a bevy of color and decal options, Quintana Roo’s latest iteration of its popular (and, let’s be honest, actually good-looking) PR series lets you stand out from the crowd, or not. Using a thicker-looking paint and quality materials, the PRsix2 not only gives you options, but it also gives you a sleekly polished look that works just as well when you go bold and bright as when you go soft and simple.
Quintana Roo’s commitment to tri and U.S. craftsmanship ensures that all of its bikes are assembled and hand-painted in Tennessee. Though the design shape has stayed pretty similar, the sheer scope of custom paint and decal options on this upgraded version of the PRsix certainly bears mention. As other tri models go for function before form (non-double-diamond bikes, anyone?), the PR series does a better job of integrating the things triathletes need—like top-tube storage and emergency storage behind the seat—without searing your eyeballs. Alongside other visually appealing bikes, like the new Cervélo P5, this model proves that a bike can be fast and still look good.
These made-to-order frames let triathletes express themselves (matte green paint with neon pink decals, anyone?) without breaking the bank and needing full custom. There’s something to be said for heavy-looking hand-applied paint (though this bike is far from heavy) that helps soften lines and sometimes inspire lust in your transition rack-mates. Though the options aren’t as wild as what you’d see at a bike show, the paint quality and attention to detail on the new PRsix2 certainly checks the boxes for understated beauty. With over 10 base colors and an endless amount of decal options and storage box customization, if you don’t like the way your PRsix2 looks, you only have yourself to blame.